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State seeks proposals to privately operate mental hospital

Associated Press - November 20, 2016 5:07 am

A suicide prevention center that serves all but one of Kansas' 105 counties will remain open after an influx of private donations and help from a state agency.

A Kansas agency is seeking proposals from private contractors to run a troubled state mental hospital that lost its federal certification a year ago over safety issues.

The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services issued a request for proposals on Monday to run Osawatomie State Hospital, one of the state’s two mental hospitals.

The Osawatomie facility, about 45 miles southwest of Kansas City, has been losing between $500,000 and $1 million a month in federal funds since decertification last November.

Lawmakers earlier this year approved measures requiring KDADS to seek permission from the Legislature before privatizing the facility. Department secretary Tim Keck says soliciting proposals for private operation will give the state another option next year when lawmakers are trying to decide how to fund the facility.